Published Tuesday March 20th 2012
Aqua Kyoto5th Floor, 30 Argyll Street, London, W1B 3BR
Located on the former Dickens and Jones site just off Regent Street, situated high up above London’s bustling shopping haven lies Aqua, the London branch of the renowned Hong Kong restaurant group, two restaurants, a bar, a fabulous terrace and watering hole to a fashionable and in the know ‘It’ crowd. Upon arrival you are greeted by a host who leads you through the dark entrance hall to the elevator which only has one option, head to level 5 and be greeted a second time by smartly dressed and professional hosts who will take your coat and lead you straight through to the bar or your restaurant of choice.
We dined in Aqua Kyoto, the Asian fusion restaurant which is frequented by socialites and celebrities alike along with the local media and business crowd and exudes exclusivity, (for fine dining and for a more relaxed atmosphere it’s Spanish sister restaurant Aqua Nueva located on the same floor may be a more suitable alternative). We were shown to a centrally located table within close proximity to the focal point of the restaurant, the sushi bar where the chef’s prepare a daring and exotic collection of Asian inspired cuisine. The restaurant at lunchtime started off quietly yet by 1pm was filling up rapidly, reservations are a must and if a private table is unavailable then there is always the option of dining at the sushi bar, an experience in itself as it allows you to view these talented chef’s at work.
In my opinion, pre-dinner cocktails are an absolute must, I opted for the Iron Lotus, which is a chilli infused vodka based cocktail mixed with fresh papaya, lime and blood orange, a bold choice that combined a daring set of ingredients, it was delicious with a kick! Looking to sample some of the chef’s signature dishes, we asked our waiter to put together a menu on our behalf. We started with Edamame which was followed by sake soy marinated tuna, which tasted delicious. We had a range of starters and were then presented with some expertly prepared fresh yellowtail, tuna and salmon sashimi. The fish was simple yet effective and left us feeling rather full.
It did not stop there, we then tried my absolute favourite Japanese dish, the Black Cod. This is Aqua Kyoto’s signature dish and is cooked to absolute perfection, I would highly recommend. By the end of our main course the chef’s had showcased themselves very well and as Asian inspired desserts are not usually my thing I thought I was done for the day. However, Aqua Kyoto have discovered that dessert is of importance to us Brit’s and therefore they have produced a dessert menu that will excite even those least enthused by sweets. With the likes of green tea, chocolate and yuzu moshi ice cream and white chocolate and coconut mousse with chocolate Malibu sorbet on the menu, they are extremely hard to resist and despite originally thinking that it couldn’t be done, we powered through and it was worth it!
If you don’t want to dine, then Aqua Spirit, the dramatically designed bar serves a great selection of delectable cocktails and is perfect for after work drinks whilst the terrace in the summer offers an incredible view over Central London. Although often crowded this late night bar has a great atmosphere and works well for pre or post dinner drinks or as a standalone venue and is open until 2am at weekends. No reservations are taken in the bar but it is a big space, with a large terrace and separate bar during the summer months, so next time you’re feeling weary after a long day of roaming around Carnaby Street don’t forget that high above you is a hidden gem waiting to serve you refreshing cocktails and great food!
Review by Siobhan Bishop